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MARION, Iowa - The City of Marion has a new readiness plan to deal with a potential future invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer.
This happens just as word is getting out that the invasive insect is spreading in Iowa, killing the ash tree population. The Emerald Ash Borer or EAB has now been located in two more Iowa counties: Bremer and Wapello. That brings the total to eight counties in Iowa. The other six are Union, Allamakee, Black Hawk, Cedar, Des Moines and Jefferson.
Officials know the threat is at their doorstep, so they're doing what they can to slow it down.
That's why Marion has a plan.
"Overall, what it's trying to do is prepare the community for the eventual arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer beetle," said Trees Forever Field Coordinator & Marion Tree Board Member Dustin Hinrichs.
A committee presented the plan to the city council for the first time on Tuesday. The document explains the need for training some city staff to locate the species, possibly using insecticide treatment on selected trees and finding someplace to keep infected tree trunks.
"We want to find what's called a marshalling or a holding yard that would be enough away from a population of ash trees," Hinrichs said.
The plan said the city will take aggressive actions against the Emerald Ash Borer.
"The goal basically is, eventually, the removal of all the ash trees and then in place we would put in a planting program to replant after the trees are removed," said Marion Parks & Recreation Director Mike Carolan.
City leaders said it would cost at least a million dollars to take down the city's estimated 1,400 public ash trees and replant them with a variety of different trees over the coming years. Twenty-five percent of the city's public trees are ash trees.
A few years ago, the city started saving for this pending problem with the 'Urban Forest Utility' where people pay about $2 on their water bill. The city will use that money to pay for any EAB needs.
The city pointed out, however, that they hope to save some trees.
"We will not remove a healthy, living ash tree. We will wait until we see those signs of stress or an identification," Carolan said.
After months of planning and a savings strategy, the city said it's ready to battle the beetle. They're hoping their work pays off.
The city said this is the kick-off of the readiness plan. The goal is to really start looking at the public ash trees for signs of infestation in the spring.
City officials haven't found any EAB infected ash trees in Marion.